In the Basque-land you should...
In the Basque-land you should have absolut a visit at San Sebastian with its beautiful beaches, the town beach of La Concha, but also neighbour beaches and the fortress from where one has a nice view over the town and also walk in the old town
As the famous Basque writer Pío Baroja once said, the Nervión River is the aorta of Bilbao. Furthermore, it is the main reason for its development as a port city. The Nervión is a very short river, since it has its source at only 72km from the Bay of Biscay, in the Altube Heights (Province of Alava). At its source, it drops in a spectacular waterfall in the Delika canyon. It meets the Ibaizábal River at Basauri and forms a 15 km long estuary from Bilbao's old town.
This estuary forms a great natural harbour, which became the most important seaport in the North of Spain, the estuary remaining navigable thanks to the canalisation works of Evaristo Churruca.
Today, port activities are concentrated in the external part of the estuary, where a mega-port has been developed in the last decades (at the Abra in Santurtzi). This has allowed for the dismantlement of industry and port facilities in order to recover the river banks for the leisure of the citizens. Thus, different urban development projects have been carried out in this area, and some of them are still on-going, such as the Zaha Hadid master plan for the Zorrotzaurre Island.
At the same time, a lot of energy has been put in cleaning the river, which after so many decades of intense industrial activity, had become one of the most polluted in the world.
Finding information before you go
Apart from this site, there is one other excellent source of information on Bilbao, and that is provided by the city itself.
The city website at: http://www2.bilbao.net/bilbaoturismo/index_ingles.htm give itourist information in English (it is also available in Spanish and Basque).
The website as a whole http://www2.bilbao.net/ is full of good information such as bus timetables, and traffic flow.
Midday meals work a bit differently in Bilbao. There are, of course, sit down restaurants where you can have a full meal like in any other city in Europe, but the traditional way to eat your fill is to go to one of the many bars in the city centre and partake of pintxoak. Pintxoak are sort of like tapas, although the best way to describe them are finger foods. The custom is something like this: go into the bar, order a drink (cider - sagardoa - is best, since it is a local product, but you can alo get beer or wine) and then you start selecting which pintxoak you want. They are usually pieces of bread with something on top: sausage, sliced chorizo, seafood, etc. Later on at night, when similar spreads are available, you can also get things like pulpa gallega (skewered hunks of octopus, intersperced with bacon an topped with melted cheese). When you're finished, you simply tell the server which pintxoak you ate and how many glasses of cider you've had, and settle your tab. At some of the more popular bars in the Alde Zaharra, its not unusual to see this process spill out onto the street, so don't expect to get lots of elbow room!
Bring a spare bag
Bring spare bag with you when you come to Bilbao, as there is much to take back. I recommend stocking up on the following:
a) Rioja (get crianza that tend to be good and good value)
b) Txakoli (local white wine that is sharp and green)
c) Cider (different to other ciders you may have tried
d) Patxaran (aniseed liquer that is excellent for settling overfull stomachs
e) Jamon (cured hams - the more expensive the better)